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high-end LCoS projector Review

Cineversum BlackWing One Turn over for more‌

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60 Cineversum BlackWing ONe ➜ £4000 Approx ➜ www.cineversum.com ➜ Specifications

HD Ready: yes 1080p24 Component video: yes 1 input HDMI: yes 2 x v1.3 PC input: yes 1 D-Sub 15-pin Resolution: yes 1,920 x 1,080, Brightness (claimed): yes 1,200 ANSI lumens Contrast ratio (claimed): yes 15,000:1 Dimensions: 530(w) x 577(H) x 199(d)mm Weight: 17kg Features: 3 x 0.6in LCoS panels; 576i/480i and 1080p HDMI support; test-pattern generator; x1.5 zoom (1.5:1-2.2:1) lens with manual horizontal/vertical lens shift; 250W UHP mercury lamp; 2 x 12V trigger outputs; multistandard analogue inputs (PAL/ NTSC/SECAM); backlit remote; flexible adjustment memories and gamma/colour-temperature adjustment; iris control (10% steps); HQV scaler; digital noise reduction; multiple aspect ratios (including 4:3, 16:9 and zoom); 2.35:1 (CinemaScope) ‘bolt-on’ lens available as an option; overscan; RS232 serial port

Of all the projectors on the market, Cineversum’s BlackWing is the most alluring

Home Cinema Choice November 2009


Reviews 61

New kid on the LCoS block Jump aside, JVC! Stand by, Sony! Martin Pipe meets another LCoS contender with some go-faster trim

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egular readers will be familiar with JVC and Sony’s take   on LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) projector technology – found in their D-ILA and SXRD-branded models, respectively – but French brand Cineversum and its own LCoS projectors have a much lower profile. Perhaps that explains the curious, look-at-me styling of its BlackWing range, which has come courtesy   of designer Antoine Béon – who   has also worked with speaker   brand Focal on some of its more outlandish-looking cabinets. Put it this way: it’s not often a projector gets appreciative wolf-whistles from the goggled-eyed geeks in the HCC Tech Labs. The question is, though, how does Cineversum’s souped-up model compare to the PJs from the big Japanese brands, particularly   the Sony VPL-VW85 reviewed elsewhere in this issue?

Lens flair The big and beautiful BlackWing  One employs three 1080p 0.7in  LCoS panels. Yet this micro-display technology is only part of the PJ story   – also key is the lens system. For   the BlackWing One, Cineversum has specified its Ultimate Reference lens, a full-glass design with a 1.5-2.2:1 throw ratio. Compared to some projectors, the zoom is rather restricted – 1.5x. At a projection distance of 4m, I couldn’t fill a 120in (diagonal) screen even with the lens at its end-stop. A key point, if your home cinema is smallish, but if room size is no object, you’ll be happy that

AV/CV Product: Mid-range LCoS projector Positioning: The entry-level model of Cineversum’s three strong range Peers: Sony VPL VW85; JVC DLA HD750

an 8.5m projection distance will reward you with a gargantuan 250in 16:9 picture.

Ring around the lens Focusing and zoom on the BlackWing One are not motorised, but adjusted with concentric rings around the lens, and both are beautifully precise. Lens shift is also offered (+/- 60% vertical, +/- 30% horizontal), although this proved fiddly with the projector placed on my test platform as the relevant   dials are tucked into the base. Prospective buyers should note that a 2.35:1 anamorphic kit – the ‘Theatre Concept’ – is available.   If most of your movies are in this format, this optional accessory is worth investigating. It’s motorised, and can thus be easily switched   into action. With this in mind, two 12V triggers are featured. One can activate masking when a 2.35:1 film is shown on a 16:9 screen (or vice versa), while the other ensures that the outboard lens is enabled. If you’re placing the BlackWing One on a table then you’ll appreciate the adjustable feet, which let you compensate for wonky surfaces and line the picture up with the screen. Ceiling mounting (upside down’) and rear-projection (‘mirror image) are catered for in the setup menus. Digital keystone correction adjustment is also available. Cineversum has paid attention   to another key element of projector design – video processing. The BlackWing uses HQV tech, which you’ll find embedded in high-end kit

from other manufacturers including Toshiba, Onkyo, Mitsubishi and Samsung. Furthermore, each BlackWing One projector is individually calibrated by one   of Cineversum’s engineers. The onboard scaler gives you two HDMI (v1.3) inputs, both of which will accept 1080p24. The component will go up to 1080i, whilst for legacy SD sources you get composite and S-video. Large-screen PC gaming and home-theatre PC users can make use of a D-Sub/VGA input. Inputs can be selected via the backlit remote, or a control panel recessed into the rear – menu access is also possible from here. The LCoS chippery, lens system, video processing and calibration all work together to deliver – or so it’s claimed – a contrast ratio of 15,000:1, coupled with a 1,200 Lumen brightness. I’m also told by Cineversum that the picture quality   is ‘very natural’ and ‘CRT-like’.   Well, it’s good to see a manufacturer recognising that a derided 20thcentury technology still has visual properties worth aspiring to. Lens-shift apart, the BlackWing One gave me no setup hassles.   An onboard pattern generator eases screen lineup and focusing/zoom. The comprehensive array of adjustments on offer will appeal   to serious enthusiasts and the   ISF calibration brigade alike. Independently-memorable for each input, they include three ‘user’ sets of colour-temperature adjustment (gain and bias for all three channels) and gamma curve, noise reduction,   November 2009 Home Cinema Choice


62 Reviews

Wideboy: Use one of the 12V triggers to operate Cineversum’s optional 2.35:1 lens kit

a blue-only mode (for display calibration), black level, white level and overscan – as well as the usual aspect ratio, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. The lens aperture can also be adjusted in 10 per cent steps, improving contrast and black level   at the loss of brightness. Particularly welcome is an information panel   that tells you about the currently selected source (refresh rate, resolution and so on).

Fired up Overall, the BlackWing One deals   out some very credible imagery. Whether fed with standard-def interlaced video or 1080p/24   Blu-ray, movement is silky-

smooth and noticeably superior to bigscreen LCD and plasma displays – such are the benefits of the LCoS microdisplay technology. Then there’s   the colour reproduction, which can be stunning in its sheer depth. Detail resolution is on the whole impressive. Boot up the Transformers Blu-ray, and you can almost read the computer displays in a wide-shot of the Pentagon Ops room. With the BlackWing One, that movie’s intricate Oscar-nominated effects-work dazzles, too. Now you can truly appreciate the care that   the artists put into the design of those Autobots and Decepticons. DVDs, fed in at 576i and upscaled by the projector, put up a fight, although the drop in detail relative to hi-def is obvious. Despite this, even detail-rich movies like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen are more than acceptable given the format’s limitations – the sheen and Home Cinema Choice November 2009

patterning of the Nautilus comes across very well, while the film’s night-time recreations of lateVictorian London, Paris, and Venice, highlights the projector’s ability to reveal what’s in the shadows. On the downside, the BlackWing One’s black level is a tad disappointing – decent plasma screens usually yield a far closer approximation, as does its muchvaunted rival, the Sony VPL-VW85. (In fact, it’s in this aspect where the Cineversum disappointed in our Tech Labs, delivering a very old-fashioned and unspectacular looking contrast measurement of just 2,668:1). Turning the iris down to its minimum 10 per cent setting and switching the lamp to its ‘economic’ (low power) mode does help considerably, but annoyingly, the reduction in brightness makes viewing in a light-proofed room mandatory. Also worth pointing out are the exceptionally low noise levels   – visual noise, that is. The whirring of the cooling fan, despite Cineversum’s claims, can be distracting in a smaller room after the PJ has been running a while. That said, the low-power lamp mode tames the latter.

Open and shut case Black reproduction apart, the BlackWing One delivers the goods in picture quality. The range of features and adjustments is also impressive, while its take on LCoS projector casework design is not without designer charm. It makes for an interesting alternative to the immediate competition from Sony and JVC, and the option of a Cineversum-branded anamorphic lens may tip it in your favour

➜ Tech Labs Power consumption: Watts 200

300

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200 400

298 0

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295 500

0

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White screen: Even when fed a mute 100IRE white screen, power consumption is rather high

Test footage: There’s no significant difference from the White Screen tests; Economic mode cuts consumption to 245W

TV Contrast: ratio

Colour accuracy

Claimed 15,000:1 Actual 2,668:1 Picture: We’re used to models failing to reach the heights of marketing spiel, though we expected a higher contrast measurement than 2,668:1; luminance, however is a relatively good 31,131fl

6,332

Presets: From a small range of presets, Medium gets closest to 6,500K, but the wide range of user adjustments deliver perfect results Low: 5,441K Medium: 6,332K Medium high: 7,007K HIgh: 8,826K

 Verdict Cineversum BlackWing One  £4,000 Approx  Price check: www.techradar.com/630706 Highs: Natural picture reproduction with stunning detail and colour fidelity; flexible configuration;  eye-catching design Lows: Default settings favour brightness over realistic black levels; you’ll need a big room Performance: Design: Features:

Overall:


Cineversum BlackWing One LCoS projector review